As happily married movie stars, Jason and Colby Kent-Mirelli spend a lot of time playing roles, taking on characters, and bringing scenes to life, together on screen and off. Fortunately, they enjoy their job, and they also enjoy some extra role-playing at home. Colby has a vivid imagination, and Jason loves making his husband’s fantasies come true.
Especially when pirates are involved. Or super spies. Or even a recreation of one of Jason’s own holiday-themed action-hero movies ...
“No,” Jason attempted. He had a strand of twinkly soft gold lights looped around one arm, because those were meant to go along with the pine branches over the windows. Candles glimmered in cinnamon and golden topaz and spiced marshmallow light.
Their entire place shimmered with, tasted of, sang with Christmas cheer: he and Colby and the house had all decided it was time to start decorating, especially given a few weeks off. They’d have to be back in London in January, for Colby to start rehearsals for a young and updated stage show Macbeth and for both of them to work on voice roles for the animated princes-falling-in-love-while-in-disguise adventure. They’d baked gingerbread that morning.
California wasn’t really good at seasonal weather -- no snow, no rain -- but the afternoon was overcast, a gauzy mystical pearl of a day. Jason, who knew how much Colby loved thunderstorms, hoped this was at least good enough: enchanted and iridescent.
And, apparently, haunting him with his own action-movie sins. In full color.
He tried again, over the relentlessly jolly music now emanating from their television, “Absolutely not. Please. No.” He knew that music. And the opening shot that went with it. Santa’s sleigh. Accidentally in the middle of a mobster-and-hitman gunfight. On Christmas Eve. “Colby, please.”
“But it’s a holiday classic.” His husband, sitting up on the rug amid a tumble of creamy envelopes and crimson ink and flowing addresses in elegant holiday calligraphy, set down the remote. And did not look at all guilty. “And I honestly adore it.”
“I do so.”
“Babe, no one adores Saint Nick Steel.”
“Then why do they show it on television every year at the holidays?”
“Colby,” Jason begged. “It’s got me wearing a magic Santa hat. Infused with the spirit of Christmas. And also vengeance. Or something. Please.”
“But you’re also protecting children! It’s a fairytale! You learn about kindness and rescuing children from the evil assassins, and then you get to become the next --”
On the television screen, in the terrible B-or-worse-movie action fantasy that Jason’s husband somehow genuinely enjoyed, Jason’s mob hitman caught a falling Santa cap as Santa’s sleigh fell out of the sky. The cap sparkled in his hands. He muttered, “Merry fucking Christmas,” and looked up at the stars, and then seemed to feel uneasy, suddenly: a pang of conscience, perhaps.
Jason, fifteen years later, grumbled, “You realize this movie made basically everyone’s top ten worst list, that year. And the next. And, like, every year.”
“It’s a cult classic!”
“I’d hate to be part of that cult ...” He eyed Colby and the plaintive kitten expression aimed his way. He sighed. The lights on his arm twinkled merrily. “You actually do like it.”
Colby’s eyes got even bigger, mock-wounded. “Jason. Love. I told you I did.” But he was trying not to grin.
“What did I do,” Jason asked the lights, “to deserve this?” But he ended up grinning too. He meant the question: what had he done, how had he deserved, to be this happy? To have this life, this incredible fairytale life, with his genius husband and their library of steampunk romance fantasy novels and their shared film career?
Colby told him he’d been kind. And a talented actor, exactly right in their first-ever screen test. Jason believed that, these days. He knew he was decently good at his job, and he knew he was pretty good at loving Colby, which after all was exactly what he’d always wanted to do, ever since that first meeting. What he was made for. Big hands, strength, support, and a magic Santa hat.
He looked at Colby. Colby said, pen in one hand, “I’m almost done here, one more, do you want the leftover chicken Florentine for lunch, or do you want to just make sandwiches, or we could do something with the gingerbread?”
“What would we make with gingerbread for lunch? No,” he added hastily, “don’t answer that.” Colby would certainly come up with something. It’d probably even be good, because Colby was a fantastic cook. But Jason’s brain and stomach weren’t quite prepared for gingerbread and chicken and tomato sauce in combination. “I’m fine with leftover chicken. Finish that last one first, and I’ll put these up.”
“Love you,” Colby said, and picked up the last envelope. Jason forgot about the string of lights, and just watched him.
Graceful hands. Swooping classical script. The line of that forearm, lavender shirtsleeve shoved up. The tumble of Colby’s hair, chocolate-dark and wavy and long enough to curl over his ears, into one eyebrow, against his cheek. Intent focus, making sure he’d got the address right for one of Jason’s aunts.
Jason put down the lights. Found the small brass-and-iron-gears dragon that lived on their fireplace mantel, a Renaissance Faire purchase which now wore a Santa hat. Nodded at it, got permission, and took the Santa hat. Put it on.
And then he came over to Colby’s spot on the rug. Standing over his husband.
Colby put down the pen and the final finished envelope. Looked up. Began to smile, glorious, delighted.
“Hey,” Jason said. “Have you been naughty, or nice, this year?”